FIFA opens investigation into alleged misconduct with Zambia

August 3, 2023, 8:39 PM

FIFA confirmed Friday it is investigating an allegation of misconduct in relation to the Zambia women's national team during the World Cup.

The Guardian reported Thursday that Zambia coach Bruce Mwape has been accused of rubbing his hands over the chest of one of his players two days before their final group game against Costa Rica.

Zambia, who were participating in the World Cup for the first time, beat Costa Rica to record the country's first ever victory at the finals, although they exited the tournament at the group stage after defeats to Japan and Spain.

"FIFA takes any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously and has a clear process in place for anyone in football who wants to report an incident," a FIFA spokesperson told ESPN. "We can confirm that a complaint has been received in relation to the Zambian women's national team and this is currently being investigated. We cannot provide further details regarding an ongoing investigation for obvious confidentiality reasons.

"Anyone who wishes to report allegations or information related to abuse in football can do so via FIFA's confidential reporting platform, with all information that is submitted to FIFA handled in the strictest of confidence.

"In addition, FIFA offers support and assistance to ensure the safety of those who report a safeguarding issue, including witnesses who come forward and give testimony in FIFA Ethics cases. Where guilt is established, FIFA takes the strongest possible sanctions, including removing people from the game for life. Our track record demonstrates this."

Zambia's win in their World Cup debut has been overshadowed by the allegations against Mwape, who has been in charge since 2018.

The news conference prior to their game against Spain ended early due to persistent questions about a prior investigation relating to misconduct within women's football in Zambia.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) announced last September it had referred an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse to FIFA. The Guardian reported in July that Mwape was among those being investigated.

Upon the publication of The Guardian's article, which featured an anonymous player saying "if he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes," the FAZ referred to the statement it made last September.

That provided the backdrop to Zambia's stay in New Zealand, where they made history with their win against Costa Rica on Monday.

Captain Barbra Banda and Racheal Kundananji were both on target as they recorded a first ever victory in what was a first World Cup appearance for any Zambian team, men or women.